Dystopian Wars: First Impressions
Last week I had my first game of Dystopian Wars at my local gaming club. It was a lot of fun if a bit clunky to begin with as we were constantly referring back to the rule book. However, once we had sussed out the core mechanics it started to flow, we both agreed that after another couple of games the turns would be resolved fairly quickly and you could finish a good sized game in under 2 hours.
For those who don't know, Dystopian Wars is a steampunk turn based strategy game from Spartan Games, it really reminded me of Battle Fleet Gothic in the way the ships move, turn and shoot though the complex mechanics (torpedoes, boarding, AA etc) are less of a faff than BFG's were. The game itself is split into three dimensions, land, sea and air with sea being the crux around which the others rotate. There are 7 main armies and some alliance standalone units too, I plugged for Covenant of Antarctica while my opponent went for the Republic of France. The models are fantastically detailed and have almost no construction involved, they come in boxed sets in stores and individual blisters direct from Spartan Games. If you're going to give it a try, they have a starter set out with the Federated States of America vs Empire of the Blazing Sun (Japan), though if you fancy one of the other armies I recommend getting the Naval Battle Group box set as they have a really good range of ships in them.
Your fleet is subdivided into squadrons which activate individually on an "I go, you go, I go" basis, these squadrons might be a massive Dreadnaught with some escorts or a trio of heavy Cruisers to a swarm of fast moving Frigates. The order in which you activate your squadrons is key to how the game plays out as you get to react more in real time to your opponent (and removes alpha-strike completely from the game!) requiring you to adopt your strategy as each ship does it's thing. Only when every squadron has been activated do you move on to the next turn.
One of my favourite elements of the game is that your mission objectives are secret. They are randomly chosen from a deck of 6 cards and can be anything from kill 70% to kill the leader. This means you are constantly trying to guess what your opponent is trying to achieve and makes you a tad paranoid about how you are positioning yourself.
The other element I really enjoy is exploding dice, every 6 you roll means you get to roll an extra dice, if you roll another 6 you add another dice until you stop rolling 6s! This means that even little 25 point escorts can put huge damage onto a massive ship (as happened in our game).
If you're looking for something a bit different to the usual squad or skirmish games I thoroughly suggest you give Dystopian Wars a try, it's not an expensive game to get started with and is a great deal of fun.